‘Never Swim Alone’ gets standing ovation during festival
Members of LCC’s theater department traveled to Milwaukee Jan. 6 and 7 for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.
The festival is an event where college students from different states come together to partake in workshops, watch performances and perform for scholarship opportunities and awards.
“Never Swim Alone” was LCC’s first fall 2015 production. It followed the story of two childhood friends Frank and Bill, competitive businessmen trying to out-do one another. The characters have a referee who decides which businessman is better in each round.
Director Deb Keller said she was overjoyed when she found out cast members had been awarded a spot in the festival.
“We don’t know if any awards have been won yet, but just getting there is a huge honor,” Keller said. “We are the only LCC show to ever go, so it was an amazing feat.”
Keller said it was special to be able to get recognized outside of Lansing.
“It was so cool to be rock stars for a week,” Keller said. “It was cool to get recognized and recognize other people’s work. Getting to the festival proves that there is something very valuable here at LCC.”
According to Keller the final show of the festival was the best performance the actors have given.
Students Connor Kelly, Heath Sartorius and Monica Tanner stood hand-in-hand while taking their last bow of the night. A crowd of over 500 gave them a standing ovation for their performance of “Never Swim Alone.”
“My favorite memory is Thursday after the final show when every cue went right, the show closed and those actors took a bow and everyone was rising to their feet,” Keller said.
Sartorius played Frank, one of the businessmen. He said he enjoyed the festival’s positive energy.
“While I’m sure my ego is quite swollen now, it was great having so many people respect and support each other at a competition because everyone just loved theater so much,” Sartorius said.
Kelly played Bill, another businessman. He said they rehearsed 12 hours per week leading up to the festival.
“The festival made me want to have a much more fulfilling career as an actor,” Kelly said. “It was cool just being able to let people who weren’t from Lansing see this incredible show.”
Tanner played the referee and performed on Aerial Silks. According to Tanner she had no prior experience with Silks until learning the art for the show.
“It was really difficult to learn Silks,” Tanner said. “I had never undertaken such an intricate skill before, but one of the hardest parts overall physically was building up the strength to be able to maneuver my own body weight while suspended in the air.”
Tanner received an award for her Silks work and said she is proud of her accomplishment.
“To be so openly accepted by the audience gave me the opportunity to be fully honest with my role,” Tanner said. “It showed me that performing in front of large audiences is in fact the very thing I want to do with my life.”
According to Tanner the festival allowed them to show people their hard work and skill.
“Knowing our hard work had been recognized was a wonderful feeling because it meant that Deb’s vision was being recognized,” Tanner said. “It was her vision that guided us along with our work effort and I knew that we had created something that could move people in the way that only theater can.”
Tanner said there was many amazing moments during the festival.
“Standing between my co-stars, holding on to them, as a wave of energy and love washed over us in gratitude for the work we had just done was great,” Tanner said.
“The other great moment was going backstage and seeing all of my fellow LCC students in tears because they had been so moved by what we had just done.”